Anyone who had the displeasure of evacuating knows of the frustration and heightened stress levels you experience. Not only do you have to ensure you have ample supplies, but you also have to deal with the mass exodus of the city.
Quite simply, it is not fun and not something you want to take lightly. The longer it takes for you to load up your car and leave, the longer it will take to get to your destination. When my family evacuated Houston for Hurricane Rita, a regular 4-hour trip to Dallas took them 13 hours! There were times when the highway was at a standstill for hours at a time. There were many drivers who had to evacuate their vehicles because they ran out of gas, which also added to the frustration of the evacuees.
The main goal when you decide to prepare for any type of emergency is to relieve any extraneous stress or frustration. When planning for an evacuation, look at your vehicle as your lifeline. Having a vehicle that is well stocked and evacuation ready is your ticket to a less chaotic and stressful encounter.
Here are 5 ways to prepare for and maintain your evacuation vehicle:
1. Have vehicle bug out supplies. Keep your basic survival needs in mind and plan to have enough supplies for 3 days. The items chosen should be lightweight and functional so that, if need be, carrying the kit will not be a strain due to unnecessary items. Initially, the most important part of preparing is to have a well thought out a plan. This plan should be in place before you evacuate. In addition, if you have children, have some child-friendly activities or books packed away to keep their attention diverted. There is nothing more excruciating than the question, “Are we there yet?”
2. Keep your vehicle properly maintained. That means checking and changing the oil on a regular basis, ensuring the tires are inflated, brakes are working, the headlights work, and that the vehicle has been inspected. This is pretty self-explanatory. Whatever vehicle is chosen for evacuation reasons needs to be at optimum performance.
3. Keep your gas tank full. When my vehicle gets to half full, I typically fill it up. Not only does this ensure that I could get a far distance from my home, but it also saves on gas money. Not to mention, in an evacuation scenario, the lines to the gas stations are going to be filled with frustrated individuals which could lead to run-ins, thus delaying your evacuation further.
4. Make sure you have extra navigational items. Items such as GPS, maps, and compasses included in your vehicle evacuation supplies can ensure that you know where to go and how to get there. To take this a step further, having non-electric navigational items can also help if your electric circuits are disrupted.
5. Have multiple pre-planned evacuation locations. Roadblocks, heavy congestion, and even car accidents can delay your evacuation and having a plan A, B, or C will keep your options open. Therefore, create multiple escape routes that do not require you to travel through any major cities that are largely populated – this will cut down on traffic jams. Before you leave, listen to the radio and the news to see which highways are open and plan accordingly. In addition to pre-planned evacuation routes, find evacuation routes that you would have to take on foot. No one wants to think about evacuating on foot, but it could be your only option in some cases.